Best Online Accounting Programs

portrait of Doug Wintemute
by Doug Wintemute
Published on October 12, 2021
Edited by Rebecca Long

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A bachelor's degree in accounting opens the door to various professions with strong projected growth, earning potential, and flexibility. These programs equip students with the skills they need to help organizations manage their finances and make more informed financial decisions. Learners develop management, strategy, and critical thinking skills that can apply to various fields.

Many top online universities offer accounting programs that last four years, although some schools may offer accelerated options. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the cost of one year at a four-year institution averaged $28,123 during the 2018-2019 academic year.

The outlook for accounting careers appears strong, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projecting the addition of more than 96,000 jobs between 2020 and 2030. These professionals also earned a median annual salary of $73,560 in May 2020, which is over $30,000 more than the median annual wage for all occupations in 2020.

What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Accounting Program?

Online bachelor's in accounting programs often appeal to students with strong math and analytical skills. However, the field requires communication and organizational skills as well. An online bachelor's degree typically requires learners to complete 120 credits over four years.

Some online accounting programs deliver coursework asynchronously, which allows learners to study during the hours that suit them best. Online students may still need to complete practical components, such as practica or internships. Distance learners can often meet these requirements at approved sites in their communities.

Undergraduate accounting programs usually award bachelor of arts (BA) or bachelor of science (BS) degrees. Humanities-focused BA degrees may lead to more interdisciplinary careers, whereas BS degrees focus more on business and accounting management. Some BS programs offer additional credits that can contribute to the requirements needed to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

While degree type may influence their eventual career paths, students can often choose concentrations in areas like management, financial, forensic, and tax accounting. Concentrations can lead to specific employment opportunities and certifications after graduation.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Accounting Program?

Accounting Ethics

This course examines professional standards and ethical frameworks for accountants. Coursework may look at common dilemmas in the field and how accountants can apply professional principles to manage difficult situations.

Managerial Accounting

This course teaches students how to use financial information and planning to make better managerial decisions. Learners look at ways of applying these lessons and activity-based management tools to costing, budgeting, and estimating.

Auditing

In this class, learners examine the processes and reasons for auditing financial statements. They also learn about auditors' legal and ethical responsibilities, how to plan an audit, and how to communicate its findings.

Taxation

Students in this course learn about accounting for income taxes and how to handle taxes on corporate financial statements. They learn best practices for tax planning and gain an understanding of disclosures and compliance requirements.

Business Law

In business law courses, students learn common legal terminology and processes. Covered topics may include employment, corporate, and sale and consumer protection laws.

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What Are Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Accounting Program?

Admission requirements vary by school and program, but prospective students can still get a general idea of what to expect. For example, many schools require students to possess a high school diploma or its equivalent and a strong GPA. The following section details some other common requirements.

Application

The typical undergraduate application requires prospective students to include their personal information and pay a processing fee. Applicants can submit their applications individually through a school website or apply to multiple schools through The Common Application, typically known as the Common App.

Test Scores

Students' college entrance exam scores can indicate their preparedness for higher education. While many schools have suspended test score requirements because of COVID-19, prospective accounting students may still need to submit ACT or SAT scores. When required, strong scores usually lead to higher acceptance rates.

Letters of Recommendation

Most colleges require up to three lettersof recommendation from former teachers or employers who can speak to the applicant's program readiness. These letters allow schools to gain professional insight into the student's past experiences and qualifications.

Essays

College application essays give prospective students room to discuss their personal journeys and reasons for applying to a program. Most applications request personal essays, which give the applicant freedom to write on any topic. However, some accounting programs may ask specific questions about the field.

Official Transcripts

Official transcripts highlight the applicant's prior studies. Transcripts may help schools identify a student's readiness, prerequisites, and outstanding courses. Transcripts can also lead to transfer credit.

What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Accounting Degree?

Career Outlook

Graduates with bachelor's degrees in accounting can look forward to a promising job outlook. The BLS projects 7% growth for accountants and auditors between 2020 and 2030, roughly on par with the rate for all occupations.

Like many of the most popular college majors, accounting offers great career flexibility. In addition to accounting positions, graduates can pursue various business and finance careers. Possible industries include business management and government.

Financially, accounting graduates often perform well. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for accountants and auditors was $73,560 in May 2020. The highest 10% of earners in the field made more than $128,680.

See where a bachelor's degree in accounting can take you. Learn more about accounting careers.

Career Paths

Financial Manager

Financial managers supervise the financial activities of an organization, looking for ways to improve financial health and meet goals. They may manage budgeting, planning, and legal requirements. They also use financial information to make decisions, manage risk, and seek future opportunities.

Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $134,180

Budget Analyst

Budget analysts work with organizations to develop and review budgets. They may help consolidate, check for compliance issues, optimize spending, and analyze proposals. They also break down funding requests, provide budget forecasts, and offer alternatives or adjustments.

Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $78,970

Financial Analyst

Financial analysts help people and organizations improve their financial decisions. They may look at investment opportunities, study spending habits, review performance indicators, or evaluate financial statements to gather information. They then present reports and plans for the future, along with risk assessments and financial strategies.

Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $83,660

Cost Estimator

These professionals specialize in estimating the costs of projects, including labor, materials, and time. They often work in specific industries and collaborate with engineers and manufacturing managers to create the most accurate estimates.

Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $66,610

Tax Examiners and Collectors

Tax examiners review tax returns and perform audits to determine the amount of taxes owed by individuals and organizations. They ensure tax returns follow the law and regulations, investigating any issues they identify.

Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $55,640

Accounting Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Continuing Education

Many graduates with online bachelor's degrees in accounting continue their education for various reasons. Some wish to pursue CPA certification, which requires more credits than the typical bachelor's degree provides. These learners may look at online graduate certificates to complete requirements.

Others may choose to tackle a graduate degree, such as an online master's in forensic accounting or even an online doctoral degree in accounting. Accounting graduates might also move into a business-related program to pursue an online MBA or business certificate.

How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's in Accounting Program?

Cost

Many prospective students look at tuition prices when searching for the ideal school and program. They should calculate the true cost of an online program and compare online vs. on-campus costs to get the most accurate assessment. NCES reports that the cost of one year at a four-year institution averaged $28,123 during the 2018-2019 academic year.

Program Format

A program's format and delivery method can greatly influence a prospective student's decision. For example, many online schools offer accelerated programs for learners or full-time and part-time options. Online students may also encounter synchronous and asynchronous programs, a distinction that impacts when and how they study.

Location

Even learners who decide to pursue online vs. on-campus programs should still factor in location. Online programs sometimes have on-campus requirements, and out-of-state students may pay higher tuition rates. However, many online schools accommodate distance learners by eliminating travel demands. Some even offer in-state tuition rates to out-of-state students.

Accreditation

Online college accreditation should rank very highly on every prospective student's school search checklist. The school should have the appropriate regional accreditation, which allows students to receive federal funding. Programmatic accreditation for accounting programs should come from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the International Accreditation Council for Business Education, or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

Student Support

Prospective students should investigate what kind of student services their potential schools offer. They can look into academic support, career services, mentorship programs, and internships. These services and programs can improve students' chances at success.

Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Accounting Programs

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Pennsylvania State University-World Campus View School Profile University Park, PA

Penn State World Campus offers an online bachelor's in accounting through a partnership with Penn State Harrisburg. The curriculum prepares graduates for the postsecondary study needed to become certified public accountants or pursue other popular professional certifications.

Students explore core accounting topics like financial accounting, auditing, and accounting information systems. Additionally, the curriculum emphasizes broad business strategies, as well as communication and management skills. Applicants must hold a high school or GED diploma and complete accounting prerequisites.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per credit: $590-$632 per credit
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 120 credits
  • Degree Completion Program: No
  • Instruction style: Asynchronous
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • Program Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • School Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Trine University-Regional/Non-Traditional Campuses View School Profile Fort Wayne, IN

Trine offers an online BS in business administration with a major in accounting. The program combines cost accounting and financial management coursework with hands-on experience in the field. Students can also opt to pursue a combined bachelor's and master's program in business through Trine.

Trine's online bachelor's in accounting includes practical training in Peachtree and Quickbooks. Graduates who meet additional requirements can pursue licensure as a certified public accountant or certified management accountant. Online classes start every eight weeks. Trine offers tuition discounts for active-duty military students.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per credit: $399 per credit
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 120 credits
  • Degree Completion Program: No
  • Instruction style: Asynchronous
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Private
  • Program Accreditation: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Maryville University of Saint Louis View School Profile Saint Louis, MO

Maryville's online bachelor's in accounting emphasizes modern, multifaceted skills for aspiring professionals. Course topics include data analytics, financial reporting, and strategic accounting. Motivated students can take early-access courses to earn credit toward a master's in accounting. Graduates who complete additional postsecondary work can sit for the certified public accountant exam.

First-year applicants must hold a high school or GED diploma with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Maryville does not require standardized test scores. Transfer applicants must provide official transcripts from previous colleges and hold a minimum 2.0 GPA.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per credit: $500 per credit
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 128 credits
  • Degree Completion Program: No
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Private
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Wesleyan College View School Profile Macon, GA

Wesleyan places its bachelor's in accounting within the context of the liberal arts. The curriculum emphasizes broad business skills like ethical decision-making, communication, and research. Wesleyan offers both a major and minor in accounting.

Graduates who complete additional postsecondary study can pursue licensure as a certified public accountant, certified management accountant, or certified financial planner. Wesleyan offers rolling admission and full-time and part-time enrollment options. Online courses last for eight weeks and are delivered over five sessions per year.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per credit: $448 per credit
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 120 credits
  • Degree Completion Program: No
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Private
  • School Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Florida Atlantic University View School Profile Boca Raton, FL

FAU's online bachelor of business administration in accounting offers a core curriculum that emphasizes modern accounting theory, cost allocation and analysis, financial reporting, and ethical issues in business. Qualifying graduates can go on to pursue professional licensure as certified public accountants, certified management accountants, and certified financial examiners.

Students can officially declare their accounting major after earning at least 60 credits, meeting the foreign language requirement, maintaining a minimum 2.5 GPA in all pre-business coursework, and passing an accountancy competency exam.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per credit: $203 per credit (in state); $722 per credit (out of state)
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 120 credits
  • Degree Completion Program: No
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • Program Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • School Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
University of Mary View School Profile Bismarck, ND

Based in Bismarck, North Dakota, Mary offers an accelerated BS in accounting that students can complete online or through hybrid coursework. The program prepares students to pursue an MBA in accountancy and certified public accountant licensure. All of Mary's academic programs incorporate Benedictine, Christian, and Catholic values.

First-year applicants must submit their academic transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. Students with 24 or more transferable college credits must have a minimum 2.0 GPA in previous college coursework.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per credit: $460 per credit
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 124 credits
  • Degree Completion Program: No
  • Format: Online or Hybrid
  • School Status: Private
  • Program Accreditation: International Accreditation Council for Business Education
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
University of Massachusetts-Amherst View School Profile Amherst, MA

UMass Amherst offers an online bachelor of business administration in accounting through its Isenberg School of Management. The degree completion program emphasizes core accounting skills like financial reporting, managerial accounting, taxation, and information systems.

Applicants must have a minimum of 27 transferable college credits. UMass Amherst offers comprehensive student advising opportunities, membership in professional organizations, and career placement services.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per credit: Varies
  • Program Length: 2-3 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: At least 45 credits at UMass Amherst (120 credits total)
  • Degree Completion Program: Yes
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • Program Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • School Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus View School Profile Portales, NM

ENMU's online bachelor's in accounting prepares qualified students to pursue certified public accountant licensure and launch their career. The curriculum includes general education, business, accounting, and elective course modules. Covered topics include a variety of cost, nonprofit, and income tax accounting practices.

Online learners enjoy resources like tutoring, library services, counseling, and career services. Applicants must provide academic transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. ENMU does not charge an application fee.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per credit: $289 per credit (in state); $374 per credit (out of state)
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 120 credits
  • Degree Completion Program: No
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • Program Accreditation: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College View School Profile Saint Mary of the Woods, IN

Aligned with its institutional values, SMWC offers an online bachelor's in accounting from a Catholic perspective. The curriculum combines core university, business, and accounting requirements in topics like religion and spirituality, principles of management, and advanced financial accounting.

SMWC's bachelor's in accounting program culminates in a capstone requirement. Students may also choose an optional concentration in entrepreneurship or professional preparation. Graduates who complete additional requirements can qualify to pursue credentials like certified management accountant, certified financial manager, and certified internal auditor.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per credit: $496 per credit
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 120 credits
  • Degree Completion Program: No
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Private
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Thomas Jefferson University View School Profile Philadelphia, PA

Jefferson's online bachelor's in accounting emphasizes core accounting fundamentals and career skills. Eight-week courses explore topics like tax laws, accounting technology, and government regulations. The program culminates in a professional studies capstone.

Applicants must submit evidence of a high school or GED diploma along with transcripts of any previous college coursework (if applicable). Jefferson accepts applications on a rolling basis throughout the year. Online students pay a set tuition rate, no matter where they live.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per credit: $605 per credit
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 120 credits
  • Degree Completion Program: No
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Private
  • School Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Dickinson State University View School Profile Dickinson, ND

DSU's online bachelor of business administration in accounting features a strong emphasis on finance and accounting. The curriculum combines general education, pre-major, business core, and accounting core requirements. Graduates can go on to qualify for careers in accounting, auditing, bookkeeping, tax examination, and budget analysis.

DSU's bachelor's in accounting readies graduates to pursue licensure as certified management accountants, certified fraud examiners, and certified internal auditors. First-year applicants must meet college preparatory course requirements and submit ACT or SAT scores.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per credit: $249 per credit (in state); $319 per credit (out of state)
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 120 credits
  • Degree Completion Program: No
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • Program Accreditation: International Accreditation Council for Business Education
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Upper Iowa University View School Profile Fayette, IA

UIU developed its online bachelor's in accounting to prepare graduates who complete additional requirements to pursue certified public accountant licensure in most states. Students can complete the degree entirely online or at multiple satellite locations across Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wisconsin.

UIU offers multiple start dates and six online sessions per year. Online students also enjoy two-at-a-time and self-paced course options. UIU offers academic support services like virtual tutoring and advising, a writing center, and access to its library database.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per credit: $330-$498 per credit
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 120 credits
  • Degree Completion Program: No
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Private
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Lakeland University View School Profile Plymouth, WI

Lakeland's online bachelor's in accounting emphasizes economic problem-solving and financial analysis. Students can complete the degree online without on-campus requirements through Lakeland's Kellett School program. Graduates who complete additional postsecondary education requirements can qualify to pursue certified public accountant and certified management accountant licensure.

Students can choose from multiple optional emphasis tracks, including fraud, forensics, and insurance. The program culminates in an integrative accounting capstone requirement. Applicants must hold a high school or GED diploma with a minimum 2.0 GPA.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per credit: $541 per credit
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 120 credits
  • Degree Completion Program: No
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Private
  • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Gardner-Webb University View School Profile Boiling Springs, NC

Gardner-Webb offers an online bachelor's in accounting from a Christian perspective. This online BS in accounting offers a degree completion track for students who hold an associate degree from a regionally accredited institution. Graduates can go on to pursue careers like bookkeepers, forensic accountants, and budget analysts.

Coursework requirements include accounting core and common professional components. Participants take specific classes like introduction to management science, applied business statistics, and accounting information systems. Online learners can access services like academic advising and a writing center.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per credit: $399 per credit
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 60-63 credits at Gardner-Webb (120 credits total)
  • Degree Completion Program: Yes
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Private
  • School Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
SUNY College at Plattsburgh View School Profile Plattsburgh, NY

Students who already hold an associate degree can enroll in an online bachelor of science in accounting program at SUNY Plattsburgh. Graduates can find jobs in a variety of business positions, including accountants, auditors, and credit analysts.

Coursework covers topics like business law for accounting majors, business ethics and professionalism in a global society, and strategic management. Participants must also pass a business exit exam in order to graduate. Transfer students must have a minimum college GPA of 2.3 to qualify for admission into SUNY Plattsburgh's School of Business and Economics.

Program Snapshot

  • Program URL: Visit Program
  • Cost per credit: $254 per credit (in state); $301 per credit (out of state)
  • Program Length: Varies
  • Total Credits Required to Graduate: At least 37 credits at SUNY Plattsburgh (120 credits total)
  • Degree Completion Program: Yes
  • Format: Online
  • School Status: Public
  • School Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Accounting Programs

Is a bachelor's in accounting worth it? true

A bachelor's degree in accounting can be very worthwhile for many students. These programs provide comprehensive training in accounting and foundational business, which gives graduates the flexibility to pursue various accounting and business careers.

According to the BLS, the outlook for the accounting field is strong and jobs are often lucrative for professionals with up-to-date training and skills. Online degree programs, with reduced travel and flexible scheduling, makes pursuing a bachelor's in accounting more accessible.

What can I do with a bachelor's in accounting? true

With a bachelor's in accounting, graduates typically pursue accounting, tax, and auditing careers. However, there are more career options, including many business and financial occupations. Graduates can also pursue CPA certification, which often requires additional training.

Continuing education is a common pathway for graduates with bachelor's degrees in accounting. They can pursue master's degrees for management positions or doctoral degrees if they wish to teach or impact policy. Accounting graduates can qualify for advanced business degrees as well.

Are accounting majors in high demand? true

Yes. The BLS projects the addition of more than 96,000 new accounting jobs between 2020 and 2030. Job-seekers with advanced training, certifications, and analytical and advisory skills should have access to many opportunities.

Since business and financial occupations often require financial expertise, accounting graduates may qualify for entry-level positions in these fields as well. The BLS projects the addition of over 750,800 new business and financial jobs between 2020 and 2030.

How much money can I make with a bachelor's in accounting?

Salaries vary considerably by occupation, location, and individual experience. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for accountants was $73,560 in May 2020. The top 10% in the field made over $128,680.

The median annual wage for business and financial occupations was $72,250 as of May 2020, according to the BLS. Some of the positions available to accounting graduates earned median annual wages even higher than that, including budget analysts at $78,970, financial examiners at $81,430, and financial analysts at $83,660.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's in accounting?

The highest-paying position available to graduates with bachelor's degrees in accounting is likely financial manager. According to the BLS, these professionals earned a median annual wage of $134,180 in May 2020, and the top 10% earned more than $208,000.

Financial managers earn some of the highest median annual wages among management occupations. The combination of financial and business skills keeps these professionals well-compensated and in high demand. Depending on the employer, accounting graduates may need experience and additional training to qualify for these positions.


Reviewed by:

Lizzette Matos is a certified public accountant in New York state. She earned a bachelor of science in finance and accounting from New York University. Matos began her career at Ernst & Young, where she audited a diverse set of companies, primarily in consumer products and media and entertainment. She has worked in the private industry as an accountant for law firms and ITOCHU Corporation, an international conglomerate that manages over 20 subsidiaries and affiliates. Matos stays up to date on changes in the accounting industry through educational courses.


Lizzette Matos is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network.


Feature Image: wutwhanfoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

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